See Hebrews 10:26-31- The commentary below by Dr. Bing and the web-site address for the other commentary (see in following paragraph) is about this difficult passage in Hebrews (similar to Hebrews 6:4-8) which is in our study for this Friday. Many other commentators whom I respect concur with Dr. Bing and Dr. Tanner: Ken Boa, John Walvoord, Roy Zuck, Warren Wiersbe, Merrill Unger, Joseph Dillow, Zane Hodges, Dwight Pentecost and others. Many who believe in the doctrine of eternal security (that a truly born-again person can never lose or even willfully reject salvation; i.e., one cannot be "un-born-again") may say that the people here in Hebrews 10 are not believers because the fiery judgments seem to refer to hell. Yet as Dr. Bing and others say, this does not refer to hell but to God's fiery judgment of believers, both severe temporal discipline; (e.g., Deut. 32:19-27; Numbers 15:30-31 (defiant sin against God) Numbers 16:41-50; Lamentations 4: 6, 9; 2 Chronicles 26:21; Matt. 18:34-35; Acts 5:1-11) and suffering eternal loss of rewards through the fire that tests a believer's work at the judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor. 3:1-15; 1 John 2:28). King Saul's mental and even demonic torment sent by God is an example of God's severe judgment for His own people. There is far too little taught on the high cost of sin for believers which accounts for much of the weakened state of the church. Scripture in both the OT and NT speaks much about the proper fear of the Lord for believers as a motivator for obedience (along with many other motivators) and the writer of Hebrews addresses this throughout this great epistle as we have seen in our study. So, I encourage you to take the time to read both of these lengthy commentaries on this important subject as I will not have time to sufficiently address it in a 30 minute message.
Hebrews 10:26-31 – ["The interpretation of the fire imagery in Hebrews not only impacts interpretation of the epistle as a whole, but shapes theological and pastoral concerns. It is very clear that Hebrews, including the warning passages, was written to believers. The three warnings in Hebrews that mention fire (Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-31 and 12:25-29) do not refer to hellfire but to a severe judgment for believers. When we see how fire and fire imagery is used in the Bible, we find that though it is used for the fiery punishment of unbelievers, it is often used as a threat or punishment against those who are called God's people. While one aspect of fire is the judgment of hell, we also find it used for God's temporal discipline of His people characterized by His anger, zeal, and jealousy or used of trials that test or purify believers. These facts should inform our interpretation of the nature of the judgments in the warnings of Hebrews rather than have the obscure language used in the warnings determine the spiritual state of the readers. Fire also characterizes a future judgment of works at the Judgment Seat of Christ." http://www.gracelife.org/resources/articles.asp?id=21 Charles C. Bing is the founder and president of GraceLife Ministries, Burleson, Texas.] Also see http://www.faithalone.org/journal/2006ii/04%20Tanner%20-%20Hebrews%2010.pdf
["Many have concluded that vv. 26-39 are directed toward the unregenerate, but these verses are clearly addressed to believers. The word "for" (v. 26) indicates that this passage explains the preceding paragraph, which is an exhortation to believers (vv. 19-25).The use of "we" demonstrates the author included himself with those who received the warning. It could also be argued that they "received the knowledge of the truth" and that the Greek word for knowledge means "personal experimental knowledge." Furthermore, they were sanctified by the blood of Christ (v. 29), were called God's people (v. 30) and had suffered for Christ (vv. 32-34). What they needed was endurance (v. 36). In 10:26 "sin willfully"(or defiantly): The reference here is not to an occasional act of sin (which can be confessed and forgiven, 1 John 1:8, 9), but to a conscious rejection of God. The OT speaks in Num. 15:30, 31 of committing willful sin. A person (a believer) who sinned presumptuously was to be cut off from the people." Radmacher, Earl D.; Allen, Ronald Barclay ; House, H. Wayne: Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville : T. Nelson Publishers, 1999, S. Heb 10:1-4]
We see similar warning for believers in 1 Cor. 10:1-12: "For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low (died) in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, "THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY." Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall."
"But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one."[ "See 10:32-12:17 Those who live the life of faith in God will suffer. These sufferers include the readers of Hebrews (10:32-39), the OT faithful (11:1-40), and, more than anyone else, Jesus Himself (12:1-4). God uses suffering to strengthen His true children (12:5-11). Therefore, be encouraged (12:12-17). ." Radmacher, Earl D.; Allen, Ronald Barclay ; House, H. Wayne: Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville : T. Nelson Publishers, 1999, S. Heb 10:1-4]
"You joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions." Jesus tells us that in this life we can convert temporal possessions (money, etc.) into spiritual and eternal possessions/treasures as we invest in God's eternal kingdom now. (Matt. 6:19-21) Once a man asked the preacher who performed the funeral of the richest man in town, yet who had rejected the Lord's salvation, "How much did he leave behind"? The preacher replied, "Everything, absolutely everything!" You can't take it with you but as believers we can send it ahead.
"Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised." This is the central theme and exhortation of the book of Hebrews and one of the central themes in the Bible. "All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." (Heb. 11:13-16)
"FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY. BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction (or to perdition) but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul." The word perdition (Gr. apÃ…Âleia) does not always refer to hell but depending on the context in which it is used it can mean 1) destroying, utter destruction of a) of vessels or 2) a perishing, ruin, destruction a) of money b) the destruction which consists of eternal misery in hell; waste. It is used to refer to waste (of the ointment/money in Matt. 26:8) and to physical death in Acts 25:26 and seems to refer to a wasted life of a carnal Christian (1 Cor. 3:1-15) here. Also "preserving of the soul" never is used to mean "going to heaven when you die" (see Matt. 16:24-26). So in order to avoid the consequences of this sin (willful, defiant sin even to denying the faith) which bring God's fiery discipline of our temporal life (like King Saul and others) and suffering eternal loss at the judgment seat of Christ, we are encouraged to persevere in faith in hope of our eternal blessings and rewards.
As believers we can have both an objective (1 John 5:11-13) and subjective (Romans 8:16) assurance of salvation which can give us joy (Psalm 51:12) and strength (Nehemiah 8:10) to persevere in faith. Yet faith without works (James 2:14-26) should cause us to examine ourselves to see if we are saved: "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Cor.13:5)
Finally, we should never try to assure someone who no longer walks with God and/or denies the faith that they are saved even if they seemed to have passionately loved the Lord in the past. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Matt. 7:21-23) We should encourage them to repent and to seek the Lord to save them by grace through faith and to give them His assurance of salvation.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. How can the exhortations seen in Hebrews 10:19-25 help us to avoid willful, defiant sin? How can this stern warning encourage us to put these exhortations into practice?
2. How does the writer of Hebrews inspire us to persevere in faith and what and where is the reward for perseverance?
3. Why is God proud of (not ashamed of) the people seen in Heb. 11:13-16 and how does this apply to this message? Also see Hebrews 11:6.
4. Do you have both an objective (1 John 5:11-13) and subjective (Romans 8:16) assurance of salvation? See 2 Cor. 13:5.